"Corporate Voice": Poetic Personation and Political Theology in Early Modern England

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0002-8017-4312
Cheney, Evan, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Fowler, Elizabeth, AS-English-Eng Lit Ops, University of Virginia

My project aims to revitalize the study of personification (personation), a trope of verbal attribution that defined striking developments in early modern poetics and political thought. Personation, which encompasses speaking as another on stage as well as for another as a proxy, raises complex political-theological questions about presence, identity, legitimacy, and agency. Concentrating on fictions of personhood, ritual and rhetorical speech acts, and the surrogacy of nonhuman material objects, I argue that early modern authors like Sidney (in the New Arcadia), Spenser (in Prosopopoia: Or Mother Hubberds Tale and The Shepheardes Calender), and Shakespeare (in the Henriad) turned to personation in responding to contemporary political-theological crises, shaping a discussion of representation and delegation within their fictions that influenced later political philosophers such as Hobbes.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Early Modern Literature, English Renaissance, William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser, Philip Sidney, Henriad, The Second Part of Henry IV, The Shepheardes Calender, Prosopopoia: Or Mother Hubberds Tale, Arcadia, Personation, Prosopopoeia, Personification, Persona, Representation, Political Theology, Rhetoric, Poetics, Thomas Hobbes, Ernst Kantorowicz, The King's Two Bodies, 16th and 17th Century Literature
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